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Festive Season Another Jackpot For Cyber Criminals, Pose As Travel Agency Officials To Defraud Customers

BANGALORE: It is the festive season and a lot of people are making travel plans to enjoy a vacation, but travellers should be cautious now more than ever as with an increase in potential travellers, frauds relating to them are also on an increase.

Cybercriminals now pose as airport officials or employees of travel agencies and entice them by offering flight tickets or hotel rooms at low prices.

Kabir (real name withdrawn for privacy reasons), a resident of Viveknagar and an employee of a private company was duped at Rs. 27,000 by a conman posing as a worker of a travel firm through which Kabir was booking his airline tickets.

Kabir in his statement to the Central CEN police station, where he filed a complaint, said that during the pandemic, Kabir was unable to take a break from work and visit his hometown in Nagaland. While he was filing a report at the CEN police station, he got to know that several people like him had been conned by fraudsters pretending to be airport, hotel or travel agency executives.

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“In September, I planned for the vacation and booked the tickets for November 14 but my leaves were changed and so I had to advance my trip to November 13 so that I could return early,” Kabir said.

The tickets were booked through a travel application and when he was planning on rescheduling the trip, the amount was deducted from his account twice.

“I was trying to reach out to the customer care service and called a few numbers online after sending them an official email,” he says.

It was the next day that he received a call from an unknown number who claimed to be an employee of the said travel firm and asked Kabir to share his concerns.

He went on to say that if the scammer has asked for his debit card details and OTP together, he would have understood that it was a scam, but because that was not the case, he didn’t realise that he was being conned until it was too late.

After this happened, Kabir immediately contacted his bank to stop any transactions but learnt that Rs. 27,398 had already been deducted from his account.

“I did not have any doubts as he spoke well and was also telling that he was checking with the service executive to refund the money. In between the conversation too, he was cross-checking my ticket details to raise the complaint and asked for my debit card details to deposit the money. I had shared the debit card details in the beginning after which he diverted my attention with other talk and told me that I would be receiving OTP for the refund procedure,” Kabir said.

“Refund scam is a common scam. We have been advising people not to look for contact numbers on the internet and get conned. If they have any issue with the tickets or any bookings, they should check on the official website and contact the number given there,” a police official said.

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Shagun Dhanuka
The writer is based in Kolkata. She loves to write about technology, gender issues and child right. She is an avid traveller and a book reader.

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